Government responds to Privacy Report

The Commonwealth Government has released its first stage response to the Australian Law Reform Commissions review of privacy law.

The first stage response outlines the Government’s position on 197 recommendations of the 295 recommendations in the ALRC’s report .

Of those 197 recommendations:
• the Government has accepted 141, either in full or in principle;
• 34 are accepted with qualification;
• 20 are not accepted; and
• 2 recommendations are noted.

Many of these require legislative amendment to the Privacy Act.

The Government will:

  • create a harmonised set of Privacy Principles which will replace the separate sets of public and private sector principles at the federal level, untangling red tape and marking a significant step on the road to national consistency;
  • redraft and update the Privacy Act to make the law clearer and easier to comply with;
  • create a comprehensive credit reporting framework which will improve individual credit assessments, complimenting the Government’s reforms to responsible lending practices;
  • improve health sector information flows, and give individuals new rights to control their health records, contributing to better health service delivery;
  • require the public and private sector to ensure the right to privacy will continue to be protected if personal information is sent overseas; and
  • strengthen the Privacy Commissioner’s powers to conduct investigations, resolve complaints and promote compliance, contributing to more effective and stronger protection of the right to privacy.

It is expected that exposure draft legislation to implement the proposed changes will be released in early 2010 for further consultation.

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